2016 Garden Plot Review, Surprise Plants, Butternut Squashes and a Ripening Pumpkin

I can’t believe it’s September already! This gardening season is passing by quickly.

Despite the challenges that I faced this season, there have also been rewards. Take a look at the plot and the transformation it has gone through.

RIGHT SIDE OF PLOT

At the size of 25 feet by 50 feet, the plot won’t fit into just one picture, or at least not if I want a front view. This is how the right side of the plot looks when biking or walking up to it. The butternut squash and pumpkin plants are growing on this side.

Now, when I signed up for my plot, the staff member warned me that this it was in bad shape. I thought he just meant that it had a lot of weeds. To my surprise, it was not only full of weeds, but also full of garbage AND the soil was totally compacted. It was like trying to dig up a lawn!

H and I found someone with a tractor who agreed to plow the plot. To prepare the plot, the two of us spent a good hour weed-wacking the grass and raking it up. Then we had to clean up the garbage and remove all the big stones. THEN we had to wait for the guy to plow it.

Once it was plowed, I had to figure out how the heck to fill it up with stuff. To be truthful, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead of me. It was also tricky for me to make time for the garden; I had just taken on a new job in May, which I had to balance with my part-time freelance editing job.  I only managed to water it on weekdays and spend one day on the weekend doing the real work of weeding and planting.

Anyway, I did manage to plant a bunch of stuff, most of which I talked about in August. The eggplants and watermelon are the left side of the plot.

LEFT SIDE OF PLOT

My accomplishments for this half of the plot include: planting eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, and watermelon; putting down weed barrier for the eggplants and watermelon; weeding it and putting down straw; adding a top layer of compost to the plants; bringing over an old patio set that some friends had given us.

As I mentioned in my DIY Grape Trellis post, H and I also installed a grape trellis in the back of the plot. The concord grape plant is taking quite some time to grow. Apparently it is normal for it to not really do much during the first year because it is busy establishing its roots. I planted it in June, and it only began to grow in late August.

I guess I’ll have to prepare it for winter somehow, but I’ll figure that out later.

Several surprise plants have sprung up in my plot this summer. I’m pretty sure that I know what they are, but I don’t know how they got there, nor do I know how to harvest them.

I’m pretty sure these are amaranth plants.

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The amaranth plants make up for the soybean plants that never came up. I want to get into growing my own legumes and grains, so this is a good start.

I’m fairly certain that these plants are ground cherries. They should be ready when the berries inside are red or orange.

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There’s also a tomato plant that randomly started growing in the middle of my plot. I’m not sure what type it is, as the tomatoes are shaped like pears, but I’m guessing the plant is some variation of grape or cherry tomato. The funny thing is that it is doing better than the ones I had planted deliberately!

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As for my most promising looking crops, well those are definitely the butternut squash plants and the pumpkin plants. I planted them the latest and gave them the least amount of attention, yet they are growing better than everything else. Go figure!

Looks like I’ll be making a lot of roasted butternut squash soup! Or maybe I’ll try to make squash gnocchi.

I feel the most excited about the pumpkin. I haven’t tried to grow anything that large before.

I mostly just planted it because I didn’t know what to do with all the space in the garden, and I knew that a pumpkin plant would take up a lot of room. When the first pumpkin ripens, I’m going to scoop out the inside, fill it with stew, and bake it in the oven.

And now, for anyone wanting an update on the watermelon plant, I’m happy to report that it is still growing. I don’t know if it will reach maturity or not. I hope that it will!

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It looks quite a lot like the pumpkin, doesn’t it? It’s easy to tell the difference in person because the pumpkin plant’s leaves are much larger than those of the watermelon plant.

Well, that’s it for today. I’ve got a few experiments growing in the front yard and on my windowsill that I’d like to share, but I’ll save that for another time.

Thanks for stopping by!

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